Natural-Born Health

the site of historic boy's fort. georgia, in the fall.

the site of historic boy's fort. georgia, in the fall.

In my backyard growing up, we had a huge pine island in the center of green grass. Beyond that, woods went on for what seemed like miles. On the right side of the yard was Boys Fort, the left, across our neighbor’s yard, was Girl’s. I remember running from one side to the other  (maybe with a water balloon) to the other side of the grass to infiltrate enemy territory. If I try,  I can still remember those days very well - the way the grass felt on my ankles and how dirt was cold to the touch. I remember belonging to the mess, feeling comfortable covered in sweat and the faint smell of the Earth.

Now, I live in Brooklyn. And while beautiful in a different way, nature is harder to come by. Outside my door are miles of sidewalk, not mysterious woods with solemn trees and crunchy leaves. Now there’s green growing in small patches and you have to walk a bit to find a piece large enough to sprawl out on.

It’s crazy, but there may actually be some validating science to that carefree, connected feeling well all had as children. And it’s enough that, in the name of wellness, we should all probably quit adulting for a few minutes to lay in the grass and feel the blades between our gown-up toes.

It’s an activity called, “Grounding,” or “Earthing,” and while it sounds as basic as it gets, the science is a bit trickier. The thought is that our bodies need to connect to the negatively charged Earth, and our current lifestyle has removed this connection. With traditional footwear, houses, elevated beds, and city life, our direct contact with the Earth’s electrons has become close to non-existent.

The science is still up for debate and the studies aren’t extensive, but the case is mounting for grounding as a viable health tool. Small studies show this technique may have some pretty significant effects. It was shown that various study participants slept better, had increased thyroid function, increased immune response, reduced pain and inflammation, and lower cortisol levels. That’s not too shabby for such a simple and easy health practice.

While the science may not be enough to make us immediately buy a grounding mat on Amazon Prime, (mats are a more convenient, in-home way to get exposure to those electrons), it’s definitely worth it to take time to get back to nature. Try taking your shoes off in the grass, walking through the woods, or even just sitting on a bench in the park. No one can argue against nature having some serious healthy powers. Not to mention, it’s a helluva lot cheaper than expensive spa treatments and prescription drugs.

See you in the park.

Should You Eat Gluten?

Eating gluten-free is the trendiest thing since skinny jeans. The number of gluten-free food products are growing on grocery store shelves at a rapid rate and gluten-free cafés are popping up all over the world.

But still, a lot of people who shun gluten don’t even have a clue what it really is. (in case you want a good laugh, watch this video) And the fact that it’s become such a trend doesn’t paint the dietary choice in good light.

But the truth is that for some, avoidance makes a lot of sense – and not just for those with celiac disease (people that are afflicted with celiac must avoid gluten like the plague. Any contact with the stuff and their body goes into full-on allergic reaction mode and it can cause irreparable damages to the small intestine. No. Bueno.)

But the rest of us? You might wonder what the hell we’re giving up gluten for?

There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to the diet industry’s newest scapegoat. Some claim that gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, is responsible for all of our health woes, while others say it’s just a trend and a matter of false science. As with many studies and opinions in the wellness world, the mixed messages are worse than a Tinder relationship in NYC.

So, what the heck?! Why all the confusing info? Well, the human bod is a tricky place. Some researchers believe that those people aided by a gluten-free diet could actually have nothing to do with gluten at all. They may just be responding positively to the absence of a group of carbohydrates called FODMAPs (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols… whew).

BUT, here’s where I call BS on the FODMAP theory – I’ve personally gone on a FODMAP free diet, and these carbohydrates are found in SO many places. Many everyday ingredients such as onions, garlic, and soy contain them. So, the idea that the elimination of bread and those other gluten containing products is supposed to correlate with a FODMAP issue sounds fishy to me. Let me tell you, compared to a FODMAP-free diet, eating gluten-free is kind of a walk in the park. Try eating out anywhere while avoiding onion and garlic… it’s very, very difficult.

Unfortunately, it gets a bit more confusing. Many think that to be gluten sensitive you have to feel a reaction immediately – like those with celiac. But, it’s not that simple. Gluten is a pretty inflammatory food to some systems, therefore, you could be doing some damage in the form of inflammation that might take some time to notice.

In addition, some studies show that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may worsen conditions such as IBS, Fibromyalgia, allergies, Eczema, Depression, Multiple Sclerosis, and even Autism (among others). So you could miss the sensitivity because certain already-existing ailments are simply being exacerbated by ingesting the protein.

Soooo, do you or don’t you?! I'd like to say the answer is a simple one... But I can't. Personally, I think that there’s another culprit for many of our health hiccups than an individual ingredient that’s been present in foods like wheat for thousands of years. More likely, our own modern bodily systems are to blame. Broken down and weakened, they need healing. Our guts need mending (leaky gut syndrome is real), bacterial imbalances need tending-to, and inflammation needs calming.

This should be more empowering than overwhelming. This means that many of us have the ability to heal and recover from chronic ailments.

I have seen people without celiac completely reduce chronic digestive issues, heal life-long skin conditions, and lose lingering extra pounds from an avoidance of gluten. Everyone won’t have the same result, but if you’re not feeling well, you have to start somewhere. You always have to start somewhere. And it may not be a life sentence! Once your body heals, you may be able to reintroduce gluten and other foods with little to no problem.

Here’s my advice if you remove gluten from your diet and you feel better… great! Keep it up! I don’t care that some lab test can’t figure out your complex bodily system and break it down into a nice little box checked on a sheet of paper.

But, let’s be clear, that doesn’t mean subsisting on stupid-expensive boxes of gluten-free cookies and well packaged loaves of gluten-free bread. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is as good as whole, natural foods. Try gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth. Load up on vegetables, healthy fats, and protein. And then… See how you feel. Pay attention. Keep a diary. Record your mood, your digestive experience, your skin changes, and even your clarity of thought. Nothing is too small to notice.

The advances in modern science are truly incredible, but sometimes, nothing can tell you more than the information living in your own body.

So, should you eat gluten? The answer isn’t that simple. But if you’re curious about trying it or transitioning to a fully gluten-free diet in the healthiest way possible, let’s chat! I’d be happy to help. 

All good things,

Sarah.

 

Chili: A recipe for all the fall feels

Comfort food is the best this time of year. Warm, hearty meals provide us with a cozy sense and help us get into the seasonal spirit. There are plenty of feel-good foods that provide tons of nutritional nuggets, antioxidants, and healthy goodness.

Try making this super healthy fall festival in a bowl! And it can be re-purposed a million creative ways to keep you fed, both physically and mentally.

Super Simple Chili

This recipe can be adapted in a hundred different ways. Add any veggies you like, kick out any ones you don’t. Use Chicken Sausage instead of Ground Turkey,make it vegetarian,  spice it up with red pepper. Even a dash of cinnamon, or cocoa powder can produce a different delicious version.

Ingredients:

1 Clove Garlic

1 Onion, diced

2 Bell Peppers (any color), diced

1 can Crushed Tomatoes

1 lb Ground Turkey

1 can Black Beans (rinsed, drained)

1 can White Beans or Chickpeas (rinsed, drained)

½ bottle Beer (or a dash of Red Wine) *optional

2 Tbsp Chilli Powder

½ Tbsp Cumin

Instructions:

In a sauté pan, cook ground turkey in olive oil until mostly cooked through.

While the turkey is cooking, heat garlic, onion, and bell peppers in a large pot until mostly soft. Add in crushed tomatoes, black and white beans, chili powder and cumin. Add in the Turkey. Heat until a slight simmer and cover for 15 min. Add in beer to achieve desired consistency, and simmer for another 5 min. Salt and Pepper to taste.

Serve in a bowl with avocado and lime juice. Other options include over pasta or corn bread. In a tortilla. Or over eggs for a breakfast option.

Enjoy this low calorie, healthy, but definitely hearty meal throughout the winter months. It’s great for a one-pot crowd pleaser when entertaining, as well! Hello football season…

Newsflash: You Will Fail.

I know what you’re thinking – what a terrible health coach! She’s the worst.

But here’s why the fact that you will fail is the best news you’ll hear all day:

Whether you believe it now or not, it's true - at some point along the way to living healthfully, you will do something that you wish you hadn’t done. Accepting that fact, and then practicing self-compassion when it happens is your NUMBER ONE tool for long-term success.

·      I used to think that if I wasn’t losing weight, I must not be trying hard enough.

·      I used to think that if I weighed myself, an unfavorable number would make me eat less the next day.

·      I used to think that being hard on myself would get me the results I wanted.

But what really happened was, I spent a lot of time living in a moderate state of crazy, counting calories, working out endlessly, starving, with a busted metabolism.

I’m all about setting goals. I believe in having a clear vision of a realistic, but ideal future. I do think one should be flexible, but knowing what you’re working towards is definitely motivation. No argument there.

But, punishing yourself every time you make a decision that’s not 100% in-line with making that vision become reality, is not motivation.

One of the biggest reasons people are averse to self-compassion is the worry that it leads to self-indulgence - you give yourself an inch and you’ll take a mile. We think discipline and hand-slaps are what keep us in-line. But what if that’s a societal condition we’ve all been taught to believe as adults? You wouldn’t punish a child for eating too many cookies, because you care about them. You don't want them to feel badly about a very human mistake. Why not apply the same principles to yourself?

The idea behind self-compassion isn’t that you’re continually giving yourself a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free card. Many studies show that forgiving yourself leads to taking responsibility for your actions without feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions. Then, instead of going further down that rabbit hole, self-compassion leads to empowerment and greater success in the future.

But self-punishment isn’t an easy habit to break! Don’t beat yourself up for having negative feelings (see how this is a slippery slope??). Self-compassion is a practice, not an overnight achievement, and it requires a continual coming-back.

And that’s okay.

Ready for a compassionate health program that teaches you how to live a healthier lifestyle? Check out the upcoming dates of This is Not a Detox here.

Happy and Healthy things!

Sarah.

Decisions, Decisions

The first thing you must do is decide.

It is that simple, and that difficult.

When it seems we've been dealt an unfortunate hand, victim mentality sets in more easily than not. But the reality is that just standing in the mess will not help to get you out of it. That is just the simple logic. But, trust me, I do know how difficult it can be...

I remember how low I felt when it happened to me, back when I was sick my body was failing me in ways I couldn't understand. I remember ducking into an alley in midtown Manhattan to cry after leaving yet another frustrating doctor’s appointment. I remember how small I felt when handfuls of my hair would fall out in the shower, and curling up in pain next to a toilet in the bathroom of a dermatologist's office after my scalp was subsequently shot full of cortisone. I remember waking in the middle of night to a searing stomach ache and spending hours in the bathroom when I so desperately wanted to sleep. And I very viscerally remember feeling heavy in self-loathing, wondering why it was all happening to me.

Many doctors told me that I had to accept the way that I was feeling, that there was really nothing to be done. But something told me not to believe them. I refused to take the antidepressants they threw at me for no reason, and I refused the severe courses of antibiotics that had no apparent target.

Instead, I remember deciding to take care of myself.

I chose to get hopeful from all of the information I found while researching, rather than overwhelmed. I took screen shots of every wellness center that I passed - tried acupuncture, meditation, and took up yoga. I sat on the exam table of a very wacky and absent minded holistic doctor, and I made the very clear decision to trust his unconventional mind.

I actively chose to put in work and to heal myself. And without that decision, the last few years of my life would have looked very different. 

I would have missed out on trips and vacations, relationships, and nights out with friends. I wouldn’t have started the businesses that I did or be as motivated as I am to teach others what I know. I would probably still be sick. And maybe, even, sicker. And I would definitely still be stuck feeling sorry and very overwhelmed.

There are a lot of factors that contribute to health - genetics, past history, life's given circumstances -  but they matter much less if the decision is made to take care of yourself. No, it isn’t easy. But, then again, neither is being unwell.

Become empowered. Make the decision. Choose to put in the work. You CAN do it.

Trust me. It’s the best decision I've ever made.